Hudson's Bay Company

Sealing the deal in Iqaluit

We just got back from a sunny week in Turks & Caicos

Waterslide

(You’re welcome)

While we were there, we were chatting with a super-friendly family from Boston. The dad was proud of how much he knew about Canada, saying that he now knew 5 Canadians (us plus one more) and that he never met one he didn’t like. Well, even if he had known 500 Canadians, that statement would still be true, am I right??

Anyway, one of the things he was proud of was that he had taken a Canadian politics course and could name all of our provinces and territories. I didn’t want to be a jerk and challenge him on it, but in my head I thought *bet you can’t, because there’s a relatively new one and even Canadians of a certain age might get stuck on knowing it*.

By coincidence, at the very moment that I was being a skeptical jerk in my head (while also drinking a dirty banana, I’m nothing if not a multitasker) my friend Lysane happened to be emailing me food pictures for a post I had bugged her about on the very subject of the newest frosty territory — Nunavut.

Thanks maptown.com

Thanks maptown.com

 

Nunavut came about in 1999 after years of planning, negotiations, and an overwhelmingly positive NWT vote responding to Inuit land claims. It has a population of just over 30,000 people and a geographic area similar to that of Western Europe. If it were a country it would rank 15th in terms of geographic size, but it only has a population density of 0.015 persons per square kilometre, which is one of the lowest densities in the world. Its capitol is Iqaluit, which I have to keep re-typing because the Inuit didn’t put a “u” after the “q” and I kind of love that because it makes them badasses in my mind, at least linguistically, even though Inuktitut has no reason to be anything like English. As an aside, did you know that 75% of people living in Nunavut speak Inuktitut as their mother tongue? Even then, though, there are many dialects. Check out these differences in words as common as “no” and “thank you.”

                               no                     thank you
Inuinnaqtun        imannaq         quana
Nattiliŋmiut        iiqi                    qujanaqqutit
Kivallirmiut        nauk                 ma’na
Aggurmiut          aakka                qujannamiik
Uqqurmiut         aagga                 nakurmiik

Lysane is a Native-rights lawyer (Mohawk herself) and we’ve been friends since before I knew about dirty bananas and was instead drinking Labatt Ice in Montreal, circa 1993. She recently travelled to Iqaluit for work (well, not THAT recently, as I’m guessing it’s snowier there now) and came back with some beautiful pictures,

Photos of Iqaluit DSC_0009 DSC_0028 DSC_0033 DSC_0039

some stories of insane food prices, (they’re not all investment bankers, right? How do they eat??)

Crazy food prices FrostedFlakes

Love that generous $2.27 subsidy. Oh, and she came back with seal.

Thanks seal.com

Thanks seal.com

Well not that one, actually. And I’m not even going to insert a picture of a live one because they are awfully cute. But cuteness should not be a detractor from deliciousness, in my mind. Ugliness should not make an animal more fair game. And don’t worry, they don’t hunt the baby ones. According to this interesting article about eating seal meat, the biggest problem many animal rights folks have with the hunt is when they’re killed for pelts and the rest of the animal is tossed away, or when they’re killed too young. They’re not endangered, and if you’re paying $23 for chicken burgers a snack of seal here and there would likely be a welcome belly filler.

(And if you still don’t love the idea of the hunt, keep reading. I have a feeling that seal meat won’t be taking over as North America’s catch-of-the-day anytime soon)

So Lysane got her flippers on a flipper. And I was jealous, of course. A dangerous food I couldn’t buy in a store? If the girl didn’t live 500km away you can bet I would have planted myself on her front porch barking and clapping for a morsel. I may just go to vegan hell for that joke. In vegan hell they mostly serve lentils. But that’s what they serve in vegan heaven too. What are you gonna do.

 Anyway, Lysane did all the right things. She marinated the flipper in wine. She dredged it in flour. She slow-cooked it, preparing for the perfect stew. 

How to cook seal DSC_0073

And it stunk. Smelled super fishy. She ate the meat, which was tender, she said, but she had to pitch the broth which was far too fishy.

“I didn’t know it was just the flippers I was getting,” she said. [Hey, look at me, quoting — please call me right honourable food journalist from now on]. “I would have much preferred getting something more like a roast. The flipper didn’t have a ton of meat on it. My big error though was leaving the seal blubber thinking it would be like other fats and it would give the broth flavoring and keep the meat tender. It’s way too much like fish oil than regular mammal fat.”

Lysane was quick to mention that she didn’t want to offend people who enjoy seal meat, saying that she was the one who had probably prepared it in the wrong way. After reading that seal meat article, though, I learned that seal oil goes bad so quickly that it’s often eaten raw. I’m thinking that unless you really know what you’re doing, having someone prepare it for you very fresh is the best way to go.

Seal sushi anyone?

So there you go. When I started this blog I imagined writing about creative culinary experiences, and Lysane’s Iqaluit adventure definitely fits the bill, even though it didn’t have a very happy ending. If I know her well enough, though, I’m guessing that if anyone ever offers to share some again she’ll be all over it, and I can’t wait to hear about seal-take-2.

Hey, and speaking about imagining writing about creative culinary experiences, would you believe that someone offered me a beaver leg to cook for you two weeks ago? Still deciding if I’m happy that I’m now known as the dangerous food girl…

Comments

  1. Leave a Reply

    Marni
    March 17, 2015

    As usual.. You rock. Not sure I’d ask to be invited over for this one though. We have frozen deer meat in our fridge, if you lived near us.. I’d give it to you. My husband is taking his time making something with it and it’s taking up TOO.MUCH.ROOM.

  2. Leave a Reply

    Ann Allchin
    March 17, 2015

    Ooh, you should make deer beer! (Messing with you. It’s St. Patrick’s Day, I have beer on the brain, and I obviously tried too hard to imagine a very dangerous rhyming food)

  3. Leave a Reply

    Aly
    March 17, 2015

    What was your response to the beaver leg? 😀

    • Leave a Reply

      Ann Allchin
      March 17, 2015

      As much as it pained me to lose all of the beaver jokes I had to decline 🙁

  4. Leave a Reply

    Christina
    March 17, 2015

    Seal meal?? No thank you! I still have this strange feeling in my stomach!! I have decided, I’m not at all dangerous in cooking. I prefer traditional water creatures. Octopus, calamari, squid!! Am I boring?? I wonder!!

    • Leave a Reply

      Ann Allchin
      March 17, 2015

      Ha! As a kid I never would have imagined that anyone ate octopus, calamari or squid! You’re a dangerous eater without knowing it. 🙂

  5. Leave a Reply

    Trevor aka The Burger Nerd
    March 22, 2015

    Very fun and interesting article as usual and glad you were able to escape the T.O. winter blues with a sunny fun filled adventure in Turks & Caicos. I’m also glad the real “Seal” wasn’t harmed during the making of this article 🙂

    Too bad you’re not putting together a beaver leg recipe because I was looking forward to seeing some beaver shots…. snicker snicker snicker….lol….sorry, someone had to make a full on jacka** dirty 70’s Hustler sexual innuendo and since you declined to create a post jammed packed with beaver jokes I decided to intervene. Yes, yes indeedy I’m just that immature.

    • Leave a Reply

      Ann Allchin
      March 22, 2015

      As I tried to reply I had to backspace three times over some beauty beaver comments, and I think that was what really held me back — writing that post would have been a whole lot of type-snicker-delete. There must be a market for grade-6-boy beaver joke food blogs though, right? Bet Martha Stewart dreams of writing posts with parental advisories on days she gets sick of making origami pantyhose.

      • Leave a Reply

        Trevor aka The Burger Nerd
        March 24, 2015

        lmao @ Martha Stewarts’ origami pantyhose.

        Here’s my thunking….Kurt Vonnegut drew a picture of an butthole in Breakfast of Champions….so if an award winning author can scribble brown eyed winkers in his books, surely we can crack some beaver jokes whilst blogging lol.

        • Leave a Reply

          Ann Allchin
          March 25, 2015

          😉 (that was a normal-coloured wink. PS May have just lost my mom as a follower. Ha!)

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